OPINION: As journalists, we'd love to delve deep into thought-provoking, philosophical debates about the meaning of life and get down to the nitty gritty of a thoroughly researched investigative exposé every day.
In reality, our output is heavily dictated by what our readers actually want to read. Most of what you read in our print product ends up on our website, as well as a whole other spectrum of stories on various topics produced both locally and within the greater ARM network.
Some of that is high quality material of substance and important breaking news. But some of it could be what some consider ... well, trash. And, while these make up a minority of the stories we publish, they're quite often the most read according to our online statistical data.
This week we shared a network story on our website titled 'Woman quits her job to breast feed her boyfriend'.
Would you read it? Evidenced by the angry comments on our Facebook page, some people don't consider that news. But clearly a lot of people do.
It received 13,242 page views on our website on Wednesday. St Vincent's nurses awarded for patient care attracted 370 on the same day.
Clickbait you say? The high engagement time consistently hovered above a minute per viewer, which suggests those who read the article received value for their 'click'.
So what was our other big story of the week? That gong went to VIDEO: Truck screams down range with failed brakes with 5,978 views.
We share 20 or so stories per day on Facebook - ranging from hard local news stories to light entertainment sourced from around the globe - in the hope of reaching your newsfeed and, if it's what interests you, that you may choose to be redirected to our website.
We're a business. As employees, we go to work every day to put food on the table. So, as many have found, after ten page views you're asked to subscribe to view further content - as has become the norm throughout the media industry.
But we don't choose which of those 20 stories pop up in your newsfeed - that job's done by Facebook's complex algorithms. When you're compelled enough to like, comment, share or be redirected to our website, it registers in Facebook's memory bank, and next time a similar story comes along, it will most likely show up in your newsfeed.
If you have a history of clicking on 'clickbait', that's what will appear. Facebook's a smart cookie. If you respond to our council, business, health and education posts, then, lo and behold, articles on those topics will find their way to you (hats off to you, the well-informed minority).
But as our print readers and those who directly visit our webpage know, we DO write those stories, daily. If you're not seeing them pop up, it means you aren't actually interested in those stories. If you were you would've previously 'clicked'.
Trust me, they've all been shared. We shared them.
We, too, pull our own hair out at times, when we toil diligently over a well-researched piece only to see its online figures fall flat. Meanwhile a network-wide piece of what many endearingly term 'clickbait' or 'spam' reaches the masses. It's not because we told them to click. It's because they DID click.
The bottom line is our aim is to write about topics YOU are interested in. If you don't read it, no one will. And what would be the point of that?
And if you flick me an email, I'll gladly inform of how many (or few) actually read this article too (wink).
And if you actually read this far ... respect.
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